I stumbled upon this video from the inflammatory article published earlier this year about how much the presidential calligraphers earn each year. While they may make more money than most of us, the skills they have are unquestionable.
It will come as no surprise to anyone that I think this classic hand lettering skill should be preserved especially when its done for the President for State Dinners and other official events.I can’t imagine getting an invitation to dinner at the White House whipped out on someone’s ink jet printer, can you?
I spoke with a friend who works as a professional calligrapher (not at the White House) who said that the team that the team that work at the White House work under intense pressure, often having to letter 200+ place cards in a day or two for an official event. They also work with very strict expectations for the style of calligraphy they do. the whole office is staffed by one chief calligrapher and two deputy calligraphers — a total staff of three.
I think its worth whatever these folks are being paid. That being said, Politifact did their homework and the calligraphers salary is not so disproportionate to other staffers with uniquely specialized skills (the Social Secretary makes $118K).
In the video, you can see one of the calligraphers (a left-hander!) working on a certificate. He is a third generation White House employee. Watch the video for details.
Do you think the White House should continue to employ calligraphers?